This article was first published in Massage World, April 2007
As Massage Therapists, we see clients walk in the door month after month with
the same stress levels and the same pattern of holding that stress in their body.
Everyone holds their tension in different places but usually the shoulders will be
edging their way towards the ears, the thoracics are often contracted causing
restricted breathing, and the lower back will often be tight from a over-sedentary
way of life. Month in, month out.
Each time we work with care and skill, easing the tension from their bodies and
doing our best to ease it from their minds. However, unless our clients are
actually attempting to do something about their life/work balance, releasing the
stress through constructive means, or going through counselling to access the
source of the emotional tension and deal with it, they will be back on our couch
the following month, the body showing exactly the same patterning as before.
If they miss a few months, they return worse than ever and the frustration is to
see an apparently perfectly healthy person slowly deteriorating despite our best
efforts because they rely on us to put them right and cannot – will not – hear
what their body is telling them.
This is, undeniably, great for business! It provides us with a constant supply of
people requiring our services on a regular basis. If that is all we want from our
job then there is no need to change what we do. However, most of us want
more than that. We became therapists for a reason; to help people. Simply being
the tactile equivalent of a Valium tablet is not really good enough. Satisfying as
it is to transform a bundle of tight muscles into a vegged-out, relaxed creature
that needs to be scraped off the couch at the end of the session, when we do
this repeatedly with no apparent sign of any long-lasting benefit or effect, it
becomes, deep down, a frustrating exercise.
As therapists, we are always going to have the clients who will not change.
There is n